Falconer will control Red Flag sky
By Master Sgt. Joe Bela, U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service
/ Published October 16, 2003
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- America’s ability to dominate air and space during war is being tested Oct. 19 to 31. About 90 airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s 32nd Air Operations Group will descend on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to participate in Red Flag 2003.
The airmen comprise what is called a Falconer Air Operations Center, one of five such units in the Air Force, and the first of its kind to deploy to Nellis and participate in the Air Force’s annual airpower combat-training exercise.
The centers are named Falconers because, “a falconer controls a bird of prey. A bird of prey represents our Air Force combat capability, and the Falconer AOC controls that combat capability,” said Lt. Col. Robert Evans, 32nd Air Operations Squadron commander.
Airmen from the Air National Guard’s 152nd AOG in Syracuse, N.Y., as well as other locations will augment the Ramstein airmen, bringing the number of deployed people to about 100.
Only about one-third of the Ramstein unit is deployed. USAFE’s center has about 330 airmen assigned in rated and nonrated Air Force specialties.
The centers are force multipliers that bring together people, processes and technologies to provide “operational leverage for the application of combat air power,” Evans said.
Together, the team “maximizes the Air Force’s ability to achieve air and space superiority,” he said.
The center is the key component in achieving this success, according to Lt. Col. Teresa Fitzpatrick, 32nd Air Intelligence Squadron commander.
“Everyone remembers the footage of a bomb going down the elevator shaft in downtown Baghdad, (Iraq). Well, guys just don’t wake up one day and say, ‘I think I’m going to put a bomb down an elevator shaft in Baghdad today,’” Fitzpatrick said.
“Somebody has to determine why we should do that; there has to be a reason. Somebody also has to develop the grand plan that includes all the other airplanes and resources needed so that the bombing platform can put the bomb down the elevator shaft,” she said. “That’s the AOC.
“We help develop and execute air campaign plans. Somebody has to be in charge of it; otherwise it would be sheer chaos,” she said.
“(The Falconer center) is where all the stove pipes meet. It’s like one-stop shopping,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Tenpenny, 32nd Information Warfare Flight commander. “We develop the strategy by putting words against objectives. Then we go into targeting, where we place the targets associated with those objectives.
“We also go into other areas where we amass the aircraft and assign them to those targets. That’s the attack planning, and it results in the air-tasking order which orchestrates the whole plan,” he said.
“It all takes place on the (center) floor, strategy through execution and then follow-on assessment of the whole process,” he said.
Lessons from the post-Cold War era and recent conflicts like the global war on terrorism led to the continual development of centers and their recognition as a valuable weapons system. Participation in Red Flag is a result of that recognition.
“Red Flag will allow us to train in a dynamic and challenging environment, which is typical of today’s expeditionary air operations. This is something we can’t typically do (in Europe) because of the intensity,” Evans said. “The realism that Red Flag provides is a tremendous opportunity we just can’t duplicate.” (Courtesy of USAFE News Service)